Here comes one of those confession moments that lives up to this blog’s title:
Even though it betrays my age (and despite my joke of always saying “I started when I was five years old”), I am inordinately proud of saying “This is my 39th year teaching at the same school.” I proclaim it publicly in my teacher training courses like a badge of honor. There are many ways to justify this and I have them down:
- It gives me some credibility in the absence of a PhD after my name.
- It helps the teachers feel okay if they’re not yet at the same level of teaching.
- I sincerely am proud that I’ve stuck with it for the long haul and equally proud that I still enjoy it immensely.
But if memory serves me correctly, Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. (Sloth is another one, and yes, I’m too lazy to look that up at the moment.) But I have a built-in protector against excessive pride— I teach kids. Whatever I’ve done in the past carries no coin whatsoever with the kids I teach, which always keeps me properly humbled. It’s a good balance to teach adults who sometimes are easily impressed and then return to kids who don’t care about it at all beyond, “Are you giving me something I need and enjoy in this moment? If not, don’t waste my time!”
So tomorrow, after a glorious summer of adult admiration (on both sides), I stoop down to the kid’s eye view— and starting this 39th year, hope I can stand back up! This time last year, I missed the first day of school because it was two days after a hernia operation and I had the Fall off anyway. But now I’m fully here for the adventure to come and surprisingly, happily so. Today in the kitchen enjoying well-earned root beer floats after a week of good, solid preparatory work and a practice sing for tomorrow’s ceremony, the staff were bubbling with excitement, jovial fellowship and overall good feeling. The energy in the air was effervescent and that’s a good sign. It’s a new year, it’s a new day, it’s a fresh start for us all as we renew our vows to serve the children we teach.
My goal for the year is to put my past behind me— all of it— and start as if it was the first time. Let go of my expectations about what I think those 38 years should mean in my vision of a healthy community and just level down to who I am now and what I have to offer, in company with a large cadre of inspired, dedicated and sometimes downright brilliant fellow teachers. It feels like a healthy attitude. Roll out my sleeping bag and stay on the floor, where I can’t fall off the bed.
Tomorrow we will open with the old spiritual “So Glad I’m Here.” And I, for one, will be singing it in earnest.